The Gate (1987) Film Review (4/5)

As a child of the 80’s, I can’t be helped for the things I’ve seen. Some of you kids, you lucky kids, don’t remember the Bill Cosby sweater, or the super-teased hair, or the neon headbands that some unfortunate characters in this movie wear. You can’t hold it against them, though it dates the whole film. They were probably the coolest cats in the crap-tank for their day. I know one day I’ll look back at my clothes and realize how dumb I looked, too.

This movie takes two of the most common themes in 80’s news hysteria, crams them together, and makes them into one spectacular horror movie that manages to both be legitimately funny and legitimately scary while still maintaining, for all intents and purposes, a solid PG-13 rating (dare I say it, had it been released now it would probably be PG, simply because there’s no tits). That’s right, the plot of this movie revolves around subliminal Satanic messages and album art buried into a metal record from evil, Godless Germany. When the world goes to hell and evil is running amuck, you can always blame ze Germans.

There’s also a geode. An eeeeevil geode that’s full of smoke and that writes things on your Etch-a-Sketch when you crack it open. If you have an evil geode (it’s a rock with crystals inside) like I do, you’ll already know not to read what it writes for you. Nobody told little Glen (Stephen Dorff, 18 years before you knew who the fuck he was).

Glen has a friend named Terry (Louis Tripp, who was never heard from again, mwahahaha!) who is one of those kinda weird kids. Apparently, because his mom died on him a year ago, he’s gotten really into lots of weird black metal bands from Europe, no thanks to his enabler father. Needless to say, this kid puts a lot of faith in his metal bands, so when a guy who sounds like Tim Curry reads an incantation that’s supposed to reawaken the demon king and bring hell on Earth, Terry stops headbanging long enough to read along. Turns out that the conditions are exactly right, and Terry starts the process of bringing hell on Earth. Thanks a lot, you little redheaded fuck.

To make matters worse, Glen’s parents go out of town, leaving him in the care of his big sister Al (Christa Denton) and her friends, the Lee sisters (Kelly Rowan and Jennifer Irwin, AKA Ug and Hideous Lee for those keeping score at home). So when weird shit goes down, Al doesn’t do what most kids would do and call their parents, because she knows if she fucks this up, she’ll never get a chance to throw 80’s parties and perform Wiccan parlor tricks with her weird-looking friends ever again.

Suffice it to say things get much worse before they get any better.

This movie is really one of the classics of the 1980’s, at least in my eyes, and it will probably be one of the horror films I’ll raise my creepy children on, simply because it has all the scary stuff you need at like age 6. The stop motion demons are really a major plus in my book, too, because I’m a fan of doing things the old-school way. The claymation melted phone just makes things even better. Add some spectacularly sloppy gore effects, a few shape-shifting demons, and an inter-wall zombie, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a classic movie.

I’m not doing it justice with this review, I know. I’m one of those people who has trouble expressing how awesome things are without using bullshit clichés like “awesome” and “sex-tacular.” Just give this flick another chance. It was great when you were a kid, and if you’re anything like me (you poor fucking bastard) it’s even better now that you can appreciate it more after having seen a thousand shitty digital effects.

Also, the Crucifyx demon-resurrection song? As soon as I find it, it’s going on the LC Album of Movie Soundtrack Greatness. The pre-rap spoken word breakdown in the middle just cements its place in greatness.

Old school, bitches. Always old school.

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